Audiologist Doing A Hearing Test

Talking about Hearing Loss: Why Your Disclosure Method Matters

Hearing loss causes a domino effect of communication problems. When it is difficult to hear what a person has to say, the person with hearing loss will take a number of strategies to try to fill in the gaps. Though some people try to figure out what has been said, others put more effort into hiding the fact that they didn’t understand.

Whereas it would be more effective to make it clear that you did not hear what was said, some people with hearing loss are tempted to pretend as if they did hear, to point the conversation in another direction, or to simply act as if they are paying attention to something else altogether, such as a television. When these strategies are put into action, a snowball of confusion and miscommunication takes place. In the first place, the person with hearing loss misunderstands speech. The strategies mentioned above lead to further confusion on the part of the other person. This misunderstanding only makes it even more difficult for the person with hearing loss to understand what is going on, and the failed attempts to guess and check meanings go back and forth endlessly.


Why Disclosing Your Hearing Loss is Important

The good news is that these misunderstandings are not necessary. Though there are many different approaches, a person with hearing loss can simply disclose the hearing loss or trouble communicating in order to open up a new possibility of making a meaningful encounter happen. Although disclosure of hearing loss can feel like a struggle for some, others find it is completely easy.

Researchers have discovered that there are three distinct types of disclosure among those who have hearing loss. Each disclosure style points a person toward a different type of communication. It is important to recognize these differences and to account for them whether you have hearing loss or if it is someone you love with whom you are trying to communicate.


The Different Types of Disclosure Methods

Some people with hearing loss have a “non-disclosure” approach to their condition. Rather than alerting others to their inability or struggle to hear, they simply fail to disclose the hearing loss. Although they do not come out and tell others that they have hearing loss, they may use phrases that people without hearing loss might use. For instance, these individuals might say, “I can’t hear you. Please speak up.” Just like a person with perfect hearing ability who for some reason didn’t catch the communication, these people do not inform others of their condition. Rather they simply make it out to be an isolated incident.

Other people with hearing loss use a “basic disclosure” style to talk about their experience. They will report to others that they have hearing loss and may describe the origin of the condition. For example, these individuals might say something like, “I am hard of hearing due to an ear infection I had as a child.” Though this style of disclosure helps others by cluing them in on the nature of the condition, it does not give them any idea what to do about it.

A third group of people with hearing loss is known to use a “multipurpose disclosure” style to describe what they have experienced and to prescribe what to do about it. Rather than simply explaining how they lost their hearing, this group also suggests something that will make communication easier. People with this disclosure style might say, “I have lost some hearing in my left ear. Would you mind standing on my right side while we talk.” By suggesting a solution to the problem, these people stand the best chance of remedying the situation and arriving at healthy communication.

It is important to note that anyone can change from one disclosure style to another. Although women tend to be better at disclosing their condition with a “multipurpose” style, anyone can adopt this strategy to talk about their hearing loss. When descriptions of the condition are met with prescriptions of what to do about them, all parties can move toward a better understanding of one another. Communication can flow easily when a person with hearing loss is straightforward about the condition, its origin, and the best way to overcome it.


Visit Us at Able Hearing

Are you struggling with communication and speech recognition? It could be due to an untreated hearing loss. While accommodation methods are important for getting through conversation, the most important thing you can do is take a hearing test. Hearing tests reveal your hearing abilities, and if a hearing loss is present, you can take steps to remedy the situation with treatment. At Able Hearing, we provide comprehensive hearing tests and hearing aid fittings. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!